Eight years ago I purchased a new play kitchen set for my daycare. I carefully chose one that had lots of drawers and cupboards to put our utensils, dishes and pots and pans away. When I got it home and had it all assembled, I was suprised to see batteries were required. Without a second thought, I put the batteries in, I was excited to see what this kitchen would do! To my complete amazement this piece of modern technology made boiling sounds when the pot was on the burner, and sizzling sounds when the frying pan was in use. The microwave beeped and the phone rang. "Wow, isn't technology awesome?!" I thought. When I was a little girl I had a plain old wooden kitchen set and I had to supply all the sounds. How wonderful it would have been to play with a toy that made the noises for me. I would have LOVED that!
Fast forward well over a year, to the day the batteries died. (hmmm...anyone else now humming "American Pie"?) My thoughts of "what an amazing piece of modern technology" quickly changed to "oh my goodness, what has happened to the imaginations of children?!".
After the last "beep" was heard, the children froze. Their play came to a screeching hault.
"Nita! The kitchen is broken! It won't let us play anymore!"
"Oh no! The microwave won't beep!"
"Oh no...oh no...oh no!"
I didn't say a word, I just took the frying pan out of the cupboard and cooked up some "bacon" making some Oscar worthy sizzling sounds. I then cracked some "eggs" and scrambled them up, and heated up a cup of "coffee" in the microwave, inserting all of my own stellar sounds of yesteryear (minus the microwave beeps of course...back in the day, microwaves didn't have beeping buttons, and when it did "beep" it was more of a "ting").
No one said a word. They just looked at me. I returned their gaze and simply said "I don't think I could have made such a delicious meal if this kitchen was really broken.". I then excused myself to eat my newly prepared breakfast.
That moment made me realize that technology was stealing imaginations. Right from under well intentioned adults who thought they were doing children a favor by getting them toys that made their own sounds. It was then and there that I made an oath to steal it back. Children that spend time at my daycare will use their imaginations. They will be exposed to "self-sizzle play" where all the sound effects are made by them.
I am so thankful for the wooden kitchen set and frisbee dishes I had to play with as a child. Because of it, I can inspire children with my own vivid imagination. I can set the stage for them to believe that leprechauns are real, and so are the fairies they make shoes for. We can imagine that planted candy will grow a candy bush. We can solve problems with our imaginations because with imagination, nothing is impossible and all solutions are worth a try.
Insert some self-sizzle play into your day and watch those imaginations soar!
SIDE NOTE: All posts from this date forward (May 25, 2011) titled "Inspire Imaginations..." will contain stories of real experiences with my daycare children where imaginations were soaring! Enjoy!